Two sell-out games confirm Arsenal will return sooner rather than later

Michael Thompson Roar Rookie

By Michael Thompson, Michael Thompson is a Roar Rookie

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    Just over 83,000 people packed and sold out ANZ Stadium on Saturday night between Arsenal and Western Sydney Wanderers.

    The combined crowd exceeds over 160,000 people over the two matches, which will solidify that the Gunners will return to Australia sooner rather than later.

    Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger spoke highly of the crowd attendance for both games in his post-match press conference, stating that football is growing in this country.

    “Two games over 160,000 makes us realise how big the support is here and how much people love their football,” Wenger said to the media after the game.

    Arsenal broke records since arriving into Sydney on Tuesday afternoon, with the Gunners lapping up the sights and sounds of what the Harbour city can bring.

    They played their first game against Sydney FC on Thursday, in front of a packed house of just over 80,000 in a 2-0 victory against the A-League Champs.

    Friday Arsenal spent the afternoon going through their paces in an open training session, in front of a big crowd of just over 20,000 people watching their idols train, which included a question and answer session with six of the senior players, and a chat with Arsenal Legend Ray Parlour.

    Saturday night, Arsenal wrapped up their tour of Australia in style with a 3-1 victory over the Western Sydney Wanderers, and kick-starting their pre-season in style weeks out from the start of the new Premier League season.

    Next stop for Arsenal is they will jet to China for the International Champions Cup, and being joined by fellow European heavyweights Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, AC and Inter Milan.

    Before beginning their assault back into the top four as they begin their season at home at the Emirates against Leicester City starting on the 11th August.

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    The Crowd Says (57)

    • July 16th 2017 @ 3:36am
      jeff dustby said | July 16th 2017 @ 3:36am | ! Report

      money offered by other cities will determine if they return or not. they are trying to spread a brand and returning to the same city doesnt do that

      • July 16th 2017 @ 8:42am
        Waz said | July 16th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        A bit like the Socceroos really, just go play wherever the most money is.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 6:57am
      Pauly said | July 16th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      Or come rarely and make each visit a trip to remember

    • July 16th 2017 @ 8:43am
      Waz said | July 16th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Cut out the AFL love-fest when you do come. There’s a code determined to destroy football in this country so don’t give them oxygen.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 16th 2017 @ 9:51am
        Grobbelaar said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        What has the AFL got to do with things?

        Wanderers get 83k at one game, meanwhile, next door, giants only get 21k.

        I think we know who is winning that battle.

        • July 16th 2017 @ 1:50pm
          marron said | July 16th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          I think he was referring to the cringeworthy cross code photo opportunities.

          • July 16th 2017 @ 2:29pm
            Waz said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

            I was

          • July 17th 2017 @ 9:40am
            mattq said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            I didn’t see these. disappointed if true. I thought that stuff only happened in Melbourne.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 11:18am
          The Auteur said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Why should the AFL get any sort of benefit from our sport?

          Photo-ops are just the AFL trying to feel like they matter outside of one-half of one country.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 9:29am
      jamesb said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      As an Arsenal fan, it was exciting to see a young player like Reiss Nelson. I was also surprised to learn that he is an Englishman. However, I am a bit concerned about Giroud and Sanchez. Both could be leaving the club. I much preferred if Arsenal off loaded Welbeck and Walcott. Both players go missing when it counts

      With Arsenal coming to Sydney, some of their objectives is to try out new players and spread and consolidate their brand. However, on the other hand, what benefits could Australian football get out of the Arsenal tour? What’s the legacy of the Arsenal tour to Australia?

      As for Arsenal, they’ll come back sooner than you think. When you attract over 160,000 fans in the space of 48 hours, I don’t think Arsenal will ignore that support base and the Australian market any time soon.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 16th 2017 @ 9:46am
      Grobbelaar said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      over 160,000 attendances inside four days, no other sport can achieve that, it shows the upward projectory we are now on

      • Roar Pro

        July 16th 2017 @ 9:54pm
        Andrew Macdougall said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:54pm | ! Report

        Not to out a dampener on this, but the AFL got 151k+ in Round 1 this season for two games across the space of three days and both in Melbourne.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 7:42am
          punter said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

          I’d have to agree with Andrew here Grobbelaar, the AFL is one of the best supported sporting competitions in the world, especially in 3 states & they get big crowds like this & then backs it up week in & week out.

          Football is a long way off measuring crowd attendances with AFL without looking very silly.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 10:14am
      pete4 said | July 16th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

      I agreed with Clint Bolton’s assessment last night. I think there was an opportunity missed here by both SFC & WSW again.

      I know it’s the 1st preseason match for each but both clubs should be fielding their strongest XI rather then putting the emphasis on giving youth team players a run

      • July 16th 2017 @ 1:55pm
        marron said | July 16th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

        Why should they?
        It’s a preseason hitout – doesn’t matter if it’s a team from Europe or the local 035s they’re playing, the objectives are still the same – to give the youngsters a run, and start to ease the new additions and older legs in.

        Now, if the promoters and commentators and broadcasters actually gave the local team a modicum of respect and were happy to give them a platform to spruik their wares, then you might have a point. But they don’t; what’s the point of jeopardising your preparation for the proper season, if you’re an afterthought anyway?

        • July 16th 2017 @ 2:58pm
          pete4 said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

          Because a good performance may mean more of those people may consider getting memberships to their local A-League club rather than pretend to be one of that’s 15,000 kms away

        • July 16th 2017 @ 2:58pm
          northerner said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

          I’d have actually thought the objectives should be a bit different if you’re playing a major European team. Here there was an opportunity to showcase a club in front of 80,000 people, plus however many TV viewers, and potentially add to the club’s own fanbase – if the punters see an attractive product on offer they might well come back for a second or third look in the real season. The FFA and the A League are continually on the prowl for ways to engage new fans, so why not exploit the public exposure a game like this offers?

          • July 16th 2017 @ 4:25pm
            marron said | July 16th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

            (Also @pete)

            Why not indeed?

            A few reasons perhaps
            Someone who’s loyalty lies 15000ks away is not going to be swayed by a decent performance which still won’t measure up. I mean no disrespect to Santalab, but he’s no Lacazette. Even a good result on the scoreboard, which might come from a stronger lineup – leaving aside that little problem about it being the first real hit out and the legs not being there yet – the excuses will fly from the euro-you-know-what.

            Now don’t get me wrong – I believe FFA/the clubs should be taking advantage. Actually the best way to do this would be to offer the ticket holders a discount on an aleague ticket. Or to make it more of a home game for the actual home side. Have advertising everywhere. Showcase the stories of the local players. Get the commentators to talk up the aleague. Get the broadcast to focus more on the home fans. Interview some of them. Wear the new strip, make it a kit launch.

            Guess what though. The organisers – in this case, Arsenal – don’t give too stuffs about any of that, it would all dilute their marketing.

            So while all that is the case, i don’t see why the coaches of the aleague sides should do anything other than what they have done.

            Any likely converts are unlikely to be won over by a small improvement on the quality of the squad on paper.

            Anecdotal evidence only – so pinch of salt etc etc – but a mate of mine was told by two London born gunners who’d bought tickets in the active area that they’d enjoyed themselves immensely and were going to be back. This is not an unusual thing for visitors in or near the RBB to say. However, it was a very near thing that there was any instruments at this game as the organisers/ANZ were being difficult at the last minute.

            Bottom line – the organisers have absolutely no interest in promoting the aleague. The FFA is mute or unable to do anything. None of that is the fault of the coaches not putting out a handful of players who on paper are “better” than some hungry youth players.

            • July 16th 2017 @ 7:31pm
              northerner said | July 16th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

              I get that the organizers have no intention of promoting the A League. I’m bemused as to why an A League club wouldn’t use the opportunity of huge crowds and good TV coverage to promote itself. And nothing you’ve said explains the inertia.

              There seems to be an assumption, at least on the part of some of the folks on this thread, that everyone at those games who wasn’t an SFC or Wanderers supporter was a “Eurosnob.” I doubt that’s actually true. I suspect there were a lot of folks who just went there for the experience. People interested enough in football, but not committed to any particular League or version and not convinced the A League gives value. Maybe, as well, some Eurosnobs who know enough about football to be willing to give the A League a try, if the A League had showed the slightest interest in trying to bring them into the fold. But, what I saw was two A League clubs not bothered about converting any generic football fans into A League fans. Not giving a stuff about growing their fanbase.

              I am tired of hearing football fans whine about not getting decent coverage, and then excusing their clubs for not putting everything they have into making a decent spectacle of a game that gets more spectators and more TV coverage than any single A League game. This was an opportunity to grow the fanbase for two A League clubs, and to my mind, neither of them could be bothered. So why should a football fan be bothered?

              • July 16th 2017 @ 11:22pm
                marron said | July 16th 2017 @ 11:22pm | ! Report

                Tell me who should have played.
                Like, honestly, who wasn’t there who would have made a difference?
                keep in mind that the target here is someone who is not going to know Baccus a from Baccus B.
                Tell me the players who didn’t play who would have made someone decide to change their mind about the aleague. Someone willing to drop a couple of hundred bucks on one match, who hasn’t been to an aleague match which costs 20 – or even someone watching on Television who hasn’t. You’re telling me that Santalab, Sotirio, um… Borda? Has this quality? Come off it.

                It’s not that which is going to make a difference. It’s all the other factors. I think you are overstating the not bothered bit as well – several of the players (you know the ones that are so far below the quality of all those others not playing) looked fairly bothered to me. Melling was up for it. He got booed. Were they a little off the pace? Well yeah, they’ve had a long off season, some haven’t played together at all, the club is a notorious slow starter for all popas hard man stuff. But they were hardly not bothered.

                In your opinion they didn’t even try, didn’t give a stuff…. what was it supposed to look like? Have you seen a preseason match before?

                Yes it’s a great opportunity. They are not allowed to take advantage of it properly. Any neutral open minded person is not turning down the aleague because lustica was on the wing instead of jaushua. “You know, I was thinking about it but then they didn’t run out the last 5 minutes of each half. Sorry.” The attraction of the aleague is not quality. When you get it it’s a joy, and it happens more frequently than you might expect, but it’s a lot of frustration in that department. If teams could turn it on in a preseason friendly it would be a fine thing. But, that’s not the reality. The attraction though – It’s live football, it’s atmosphere. These were delivered. It’s a lot of other things not allowed to be demonstrated at these games.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 8:24am
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

                Super post, marron.

                Your insights highlight the difference between understanding the ALeague, the culture, the crowds, the issues, the drivers & being clueless about all those things.

                Every day people who are clueless about the ALeague and football want to come to football discussions to lecture us about how to improve our game.

                Why do they do it? It’s one of the great mysteries of life in Australia. People who don’t have any passion for football, but spend hours every day reading & writing comments about it.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 9:13am
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

                marron – I’m not talking about the players on the field not trying. It should be obvious I’m talking about the clubs’ management not trying to take advantage of a massive promotional opportunity.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 2:42pm
                marron said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

                But as I said – and I thought you agreed – that’s out of the clubs control. The best they can do is say yes when the overseas club comes calling – from then on its let them do their marketing thing and hope.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 9:22am
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                Nemesis: the “culture” you describe has been delivering an average A League attendance of around 12 to 13000 per game for the last five or six years with no sign at all of a breakthrough into a wider or bigger fan base. It would seem to me it’s people such as yourself who don’t understand the drivers, because the A League is in a rut and not driving anywhere at all at the moment.

                Time to grow and expand the “culture” because continuing to do what the A League has been doing for the past half decade is not the way forward for the game. And if you find the notion that the culture may have to change to bring in the crowds, so be it. Evolution can be a challenging process, especially for the dinosaurs.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 9:34am
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

                “the “culture” you describe has been delivering an average A League attendance of around 12 to 13000 per game for the last five or six years”

                Yes. And, what’s wrong with that?

                You may not be aware, since you’re new to Australia, but the ALeague is 12 years old. Some clubs, like WSW are 5 years old.

                NRL average crowds are 15,000 and most clubs are 100 years old with most matches every week being Sydney Derbies.

                As recently as 2002, NRL average season crowds were 13k.

                If you like football, you can check out the ALeague and I hope you join us.
                If you don’t like football, or you’ve checked out ALeague & don’t enjoy it, no problem. Go back to where you came from. Enjoy surfing, or BBL, tennis or golf.

                Leave the ALeague fans alone. I don’t try to lecture the AFL/NRL/Rugby community about how to win me over, so don’t lecture me about how to win you over.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 10:48am
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                Oh, well, if you are satisfied with a stagnant A League pulling lower crowds and lower television viewership than it should, given that football is the biggest team sport in the country, so be it. (Incidentally, I’ve been in this country long enough to know that, first, the A league may be relatively young but football as a sport has a history going back 150 years, and second that, while the NRL has mediocre attendance numbers, it has stratospheric TV viewing figures, a fact your cherry-picked argument oddly failed to include.)

                Personally, I think the A League needs to try some different approaches because so far, it’s not really cutting through. If you don’t feel that way, fine. That’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. But, strange though the concept may be, I’m entitled to an opinion as well. There is no entry exam I have to write to be allowed to post on this or any other thread on the Roar. This is not a closed tab with a secret password, accessible to members only.

                If you want a private website closed to anyone who isn’t of a like mind with yourself, then set it up yourself. Otherwise, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to live with the reality that this is a website for open discussion, and that I and a lot of others who are interested in and care about what is, after all, the World Game, are going to comment when and as we like.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 10:55am
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                I didn’t cherry-pick the crowd figure.

                You introduced the crowds, I address that issue.

                You, like so many others in Australia, seem to have trouble understanding “sport” is not the same as “the elite competition”.

                So, yes. Football has been around in this country as long as the other team ball sports. And, that’s why the sport of football is the most popular in Australia.

                The only aspect of our sport that needs to be improved in terms of wider engagement are people sitting on couches watching ALeague on TV.

                The numbers in the stands for ALeague are fine. They’re not great by AFL standards, but great by world football standards.

                I actually attend ALeague matches. So, I honestly don’t care what people outside the community want.

                Keep existing fans happy.
                Then try to reach to potential new fans, but always ensure you never alienate existing fans.

                It’s Business 101.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                “I honestly don’t care what people outside the community want.”

                That is most certainly not “Business 101.” I’ve never encountered a business that isn’t interesting in expanding its client base. I have, however, encountered a lot of civil servants that think the way you do.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 11:18am
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

                “I’ve never encountered a business that isn’t interesting in expanding its client base.”

                I said:

                Keep existing fans happy.
                Then try to reach to potential new fans, but always ensure you never alienate existing fans.

                Existing customers are the best source new customers than any marketing campaign.
                If I sell beer, it’s ridiculous to try to engage with people who hate beer or hate alcohol, or have tried my brand of beer but don’t like it.

                Rather, I should market myself to people who love beer but don’t buy my brand.
                Now some beer drinkers will only want to buy European brands & they’ll never choose Aussie brands.
                Fine. I’m never going to convince them to change their attitude.

                But, if you’re open to trying the local brand of beer, then give my product a try.
                But, I’m not going to change the way I brew my beer and risk alienating existing loyal customers to try to win over people who may never be loyal to my brand.

                Football is the product.
                ALeague is the brand.

                The ALeague clubs need to market their brand to people who love the product, but choose other brands.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 11:45am
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                Let me repeat: ““I honestly don’t care what people outside the community want.” So, no market research to see how to grow the business. Not Business 101 for sure. Not even Lemonade Stand 005.

                And the rest of your argument equates to, “I’m all right Jack.” Are you? Are you making the best beer you can with the ingredients you have? And are you marketing it in the most effective manner possible to the broadest range of potential clients? Do you even know the answer to either of these questions? If you’re not doing both these things, and making sure you’re doing both these things all the time, you fail both Business 101 and Marketing 101.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 12:06pm
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                This is too funny. A bloke who doesn’t have any interest in ALeague trying to lecture me about the ALeague.

                No. I don’t think the clubs & FFA market the ALeague effectively.

                The biggest reason is because they’ve tried to market the competition to people who hate football, or have no interest in football.

                ALeague fans on this forum probably disagree on many many things.

                But, I think we all agree that the growth of the ALeague fanbase will come from people within the football community, who don’t engage with ALeague.

                Growth will not come from converting people who hate Football.

                Once the ALeague can say they capture 75-85% of the football community, then we can set our sights on trying to win fans from the group of Aussies who hate football.

                Then, if we grab 85% of this group we can set our sights on trying to win fans from the group of Aussies who hate all sport.

                Different marketing strategies are need for different broad consumer groups:

                1) People who love football; but don’t watch ALeague
                2) People who like sport and are willing to give football a try
                3) People who hate sport.
                4) People who hate football

                AFL & NRL can confidently say: “75-85% of people who love Aussie Rules & RL respectively have an AFL & NRL club”

                They’ve exhausted their existing market. That’s why they need to convert people from outside their existing fanbase.

                ALeague hasn’t even scratched the surface of the existing football community.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 12:56pm
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

                There you go with the logical fallacies again. As soon as you find yourself on shaky ground, you make up a straw man to knock down instead of addressing the actual point.

                “Growth will not come from converting people who hate Football.”

                Who suggested marketing to football haters? My point was that the two Sydney teams could have done a better job of marketing their clubs to the people attending – you know – football games. And who, therefore, presumably do not hate football. And who, therefore, are precisely the people you say the A League should be marketing to.

                ” ALeague hasn’t even scratched the surface of the existing football community.”

                I believe that was precisely my point. It isn’t progressing. Why hasn’t it, and what can be done about it? Sitting back and just assuming that, if you wait long enough, it will all fall into place, is not a strategy. Not in business, not in life.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 1:05pm
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                “My point was that the two Sydney teams could have done a better job of marketing their clubs to the people attending – you know – football games.”

                Ok. I admit I do not understand the mind of the person who attends these practice matchs & doesn’t attend ALeague.

                So, I’m willing to listen to your advice.

                Please list 5 things that Sydney FC & WSW could have done to better market themselves to the people attending?

                What do you anticipate each of the 5 marketing strategies would cost?
                And, what would be your forecast conversion rate if SydFC & WSW had done what you suggested?

                I’m ready to listen.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 9:20pm
                northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

                From your response, I conclude that you don’t even understand my point.

                Tens of thousands of what you call “events watchers” attended those two games: every last one of them was a person who liked football or they wouldn’t have been there. Exactly the sort of people you keep saying should be cultivated – but now you’re saying the A League doesn’t need or want them. There’s more than a bit of cognitive dissonance in your stance. You may not see it, but I sure do.

                Anyway, let’s face it, you are only disagreeing with what I’m saying because I don’t fit into your idea of a football fan. You aren’t prepared to argue with people who are making the same point but have better football credentials than you do. In the end, you aren’t arguing with what I’m saying, you’re arguing with my right to say it.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm
              northerner said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

              Nemesis: this is ridiculous.

              You say you don’t understand the mentality of people who attend practice matches but don’t attend the A League. Yet, a few lines up, you were talking about the A League trying to engage people who weren’t A League fans but liked football.

              Now, you’re backing away. Suddenly, just liking football in general isn’t good enough. Cognitive dissonance at play?

              In the end, who cares whether you understand the mentality or not? Quite frankly, your lack of understanding isn’t very relevant. You don’t speak for football, and certainly not for the A League. People who actually have responsibility for growing football and especially professional football in this country have to understand that “mentality.” They have to figure out how to bridge that gap between the generic football fan, the casual football fan, and the A League. They have to work out business and marketing strategies that reach out to the bigger football and sports-minded community. I doubt you will be part of that discourse.

              That you don’t “get it” and probably never will, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get it. They’re the ones that count.

              Incidentally, I’m getting fairly tired of the personal attacks. If you can only dispute my point by attacking me as a non-fan, and not by pointing out where I’m wrong (and I notice, with some amusement, that you haven’t dared to challenge some pretty well established fans who’ve made similar points) then you are simply going after me and not my argument. Classic ad hominem.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 8:08pm
                Nemesis said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:08pm | ! Report


                So, from your essay answer I can conclude

                You can’t think of even one marketing strategy Sydney & WSW could have used.

                Tens of thousands of event-watchers will now be lost to ALeague.

                How dreadful. Hopefully, they can go to watch BBL, or go surfing, or watch AFLW.

                At least those of us who attend ALeague won’t have to put up with paper planes at ALeague.

          • July 16th 2017 @ 5:09pm
            Fadida said | July 16th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

            Agree. These aren’t your usual friendlies. They are a chance to sell the league to those who haven’t yet embraced it.

            Playing under strength sides and struggling on field doesn’t do that

      • July 17th 2017 @ 9:56am
        Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        pete4 – I am with you and Clint Bolton, on this one, and it was a missed opportunity to shock these teams by giving them a closer match.

        Of course, Arsenal is quality; and they will win the match in the end. However, these games are well known in advance and If I was Popa or Arnold, I would have prepared the team as if it was a cup final to get the edge on them, in fitness.

        There is no reason why we couldn’t match them in fitness and start training earlier; or at the very least at the same time as these European clubs start training.

        We are suppose to be full time professionals and therefore we should start acting like full time professionals and be fit all year round.

        The only group who turned up on the night for the fight, were the RBB who supported the team with pure gusto—totally out voiced their opposition barrackers.

        The Australian sporting public are difficult to win over. They will not give their support lightly that’s why Australian Football needs to show them that, they are not that far off the pace in entertainment and can at least match them in fitness and a desire to win.

        This is what Ange’s new philosophy is all about; changing the culture from just turning up—to a winning culture, no matter who the opposition are. Friendly or not, pre-season or not, we are a young league who have to grow up quickly to show everyone we mean business.

        If we are going to get the support and respect from the Australian public, we have to stop with the excuses and change the culture to a winning culture—what ever it takes, with what ever we have, in playing stocks.

        • July 18th 2017 @ 4:06pm
          Josh said | July 18th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report


          It was hard work in the RBB but an absolute determination to show up these event goers with their 1 week old jerseys saw us through.

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